Parkrun (stylised as parkrun) is a collection of 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) events for walkers, runners and volunteers that take place every Saturday morning at more than 2,000 locations in 22 countries across six continents.

PredecessorBushy Park Time Trial
UK Time Trial
Formation2 October 2004; 18 years ago (2004-10-02)
FounderPaul Sinton-Hewitt
HeadquartersRichmond, London
ServicesGlobal provision of weekly, timed 5km running events
Total individual runners (October 2019): 6,301,016
Key people
Paul Sinton-Hewitt
Total individual volunteers (September 2019): 515,283

Parkrun was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt on 2 October 2004 at Bushy Park in London, England. The event was originally called the Bushy Park Time Trial. It grew into a network of similar events called the UK Time Trials, before adopting the name Parkrun in 2008 and expanding into other countries. The first event outside of the United Kingdom was launched in Zimbabwe in 2007, followed by Denmark in 2009, South Africa and Australia in 2011 and the United States in 2012. Sinton-Hewitt received a CBE for his services to grassroots sport in 2014. By October 2018 over 5 million runners were registered worldwide.

Events take place at a range of general locations including parks, stately homes, forests, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, beaches, promenades, prisons and nature reserves. A Parkrun milestone T-shirt is offered to volunteers and runners who have participated in a number of runs. Runners can travel to and complete any Parkrun; those that travel are termed "parkrun tourists" and can, if they wish, complete challenges. The male record holder is Andrew Baddeley with a time of 13 minutes and 48 seconds. The female record holder is Isobel Batt-Doyle with a time of 15 minutes and 25 seconds.


Participants at Bushy Parkrun, the first event location

Parkrun was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt on 2 October 2004 at Bushy Park in London, England.[1] Sinton-Hewitt was born in Zimbabwe and went to Potchefstroom High School for Boys as a boarder in South Africa.[2] He became a club runner with a personal best time in the marathon of 2 hours and 36 minutes.[3] In 2004, Sinton-Hewitt was suffering from depression and unable to run due to an injury. He founded Parkrun because he wanted to continue to spend time with his running friends.[2] In a BBC Radio 4 interview he said that the idea for Parkrun came from his time in South Africa 20 years earlier where he had experienced competitive races that took place on the same course at the same time each week.[4] The first event took place at Bushy Park, and had 13 runners and three volunteers, and was managed by Sinton-Hewitt himself.

Participants lining up to start at Parkrun Łódź in Poland

The Bushy Parkrun was originally known as the Bushy Park Time Trial, and its results were timed with a stopwatch, recorded on paper while washers stamped with a finish number were used as finishing tokens.[5][6] Over the next two years, the event took place every week with the number of participants and volunteers growing, and with new technology introduced to streamline the processing of results. The second Time Trial was launched at Wimbledon Common in 2007; it was here that the model of having an identical structure at different locations began.[5] That year saw a further six events established.[7] They were initially known as UK Time Trials before the "parkrun" name was adopted. Five more locations were added in 2008, including the first Parkruns in Scotland and in Wales.

The first event outside the UK was launched in Zimbabwe in 2007, though this event no longer operates. The longest-running Parkrun outside the UK was launched in Denmark in 2009. In 2010, there were 30 new events added including the first in Northern Ireland.[5] In 2011 parkrun began in South Africa and Australia, both of which have seen significant growth in event numbers, and in 2012 Parkrun USA launched. Junior Parkrun started at Bushy Park in 2013.[5] Sinton-Hewitt received a CBE in 2014 for his "services to grassroots sport".[8]

The first event at Serpukhov Parkrun in Russia

By 2015, more than 80,000 people were gathering in parks across the world each week to run, jog and walk a Parkrun – more than twice the number who take part in the annual London Marathon.[9] In 2016, 1.1 million different people completed a Parkrun and 142,000 people volunteered.[10]

In 2017 "Parkrun Global Limited", the organisation which supports global Parkrun events, became a UK registered charity.[11]

By 2018, approximately a quarter of a million runners took part weekly in 1,500 events, spread over 20 countries.[12]

Parkrun events were closed from March 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.[13] They resumed in England on 24 July 2021.[14]

Some controversy arose in 2022, when Parkrun changed its rules to ban dogs running with owners where a waist-harness was used; participation was instead restricted to running with one dog on a short, hand-held lead. This was due to research Parkrun had conducted that showed that where participants use waist harnesses, there was an "increased risk of serious incidents, particularly trips and falls, compared to when using handheld leads." A spokesperson said "More than 10% of incidents at Parkrun events involve dogs, and as such we have spent significant time considering the nature, frequency, and severity of dog-related incidents."[15]

Event outlineEdit


A unique Parkrun I.D. is carried by the runner and scanned at the end of a run to record the completion time.

All Parkruns are 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) in length and are free to enter.[16] Anyone can take part, including walkers as well as runners. Participants include parents with their children, pensioners, people with their dogs, wheelchair users, people pushing prams, and club and casual runners, although not all courses are suitable for all participants.[17] Beginner runners, older adults and overweight people are common.[18] Visually impaired runners and walkers are also able to participate, with the aid of trained VI guides.[19][20]

They usually take place at the same time, at the same place, on the same course, once per week. There is no formal procedure before the run with participants asked to arrive shortly before the start time and wait near the starting line.[21] A run director will make announcements giving safety instructions and community news before beginning the run.[22] Participants run or walk the course and are directed by marshals along the correct route to the finish line.[23] As each runner enters the finish funnel, a volunteer records their finishing place and time. The results are uploaded to the Parkrun website, which also generates a number of statistics.[24] The results available are: finishing position for both male and female runners, finish time, whether a personal best time has been achieved, the total number of runs completed by an individual, their age grade result and their position in relation to other veteran or junior runners.[25]

To have a time recorded, runners are asked to register on the Parkrun website, print out a personal I.D. that includes a barcode and bring it to each event. Alternatively, they can download the barcode or QR code to a phone app or fitness or smart watch. Registration needs to be done just once, with the barcode valid for any subsequent Parkrun in the world.[26][27][28] Runners can still participate without registering, or if they forget to bring their personal barcode, but they will not have their time or participation recorded. If the runner does not have a barcode, their position on the finishers table will be recorded with the name "unknown" and no time. After passing the finish line, each runner is handed a "finish token" corresponding to their position. This is later scanned alongside their personal barcode, if they have one, to link their result with their Parkrun profile.[24]

The Daily Telegraph reported that "what's clever is that it’s not a race against everyone else but a timed run", and that trying to improve your personal best time is a great incentive even for slower runners.[17] The paper further explained that the success of the events is down to them being free and weekly, because it allows people to get into a routine.[29]

An article in The Daily Telegraph said that a drop in gym usage can be attributed to a backlash against gym membership fees combined with the popularity of events such as Parkrun and fitness tracking devices.[30]

Parkrun locationsEdit

Cannon Hill Parkrun in Birmingham, England, is run in a city park on tarmac footpaths.

Events take place in a range of locations and aren't restricted to parks. Venues include city parks, country parks, national parks, the grounds of stately homes, castles, forests, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, beaches, promenades, prisons, racecourses and nature reserves. The runs have different degrees of difficulty, with hilly runs harder to complete than those that are flat. The running surface varies, with many city park Parkruns being run on tarmac footpaths, closed roads, grass or a mixture of all three, while forest and country park Parkruns are more likely to be on trails. Runs that take place in hotter countries often start early in the morning to avoid excess heat.

Permanent event closures are rare. Zimbabwe was the first country to host a Parkrun outside the UK; the event started in 2007 but closed several years later. Parkrun Elliðaárdalur closed in 2012 due to operational difficulties in the winter, and Hillerød Parkrun in Denmark closed in 2013. Camp Bastion Parkrun was hosted at a military base in Afghanistan, which shut in 2014. Skegness briefly hosted 12 Parkruns (December 2019 – 14 March 2020) before it was shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Changes to the layout of the adjacent car park by East Lindsey District Council cut the course in half, forcing the closure of the Parkrun. Cambridge Parkrun (formerly held in Milton Country Park) did not restart following closure during the coronavirus pandemic.[31] More frequently, Parkruns have formally closed at a location, but have relocated to a venue nearby and changed name.[32]


Volunteers arranging a Parkrun event in Perm, Russia

Each Parkrun event is run entirely by volunteers, who are integral to its not-for-profit status.[33] There are several different volunteer roles at each Parkrun event.[34] Every event has a "volunteer" web page, with the same basic information about how to get involved as a volunteer, as well as crediting those who have made the effort in the most recent week.[35] At the outset of Parkrun, the central organisation sought to simplify the volunteering process to allow new events to be set up with a low number of volunteers; this simplification now allows new volunteers to assist with minimal training.[36]

Each event has a core team, who has received sanction from Parkrun HQ and the location owner to stage the event. The individual roles are typically filled by different volunteers each week and include: a run director who manages the event, making announcements and starting the run; timekeepers; marshals; barcode scanners who scan finishing tokens; event setup and close down volunteers; tail walkers; pacers and result processors.[37][38]

According to Steve Flowers at the University of Kent’s business school, Parkrun is an example, along with Wikipedia, of what he calls "people’s innovation", which The Guardian explains as being "driven by users rather than producers, by volunteers rather than professionals".[39] Volunteer roles such as timekeeping and barcode scanning use a free, downloadable app to assist with the data collaction and compilation.[40]

Junior ParkrunEdit

Junior Parkrun (stylised as junior parkrun) is a spin-off event that provides a 2 kilometres (1+14 mi) event for children aged 4–14, held on Sunday mornings. Parents and guardians are allowed to run with their children but are not eligible for a placed finish. Dogs can be brought to the event but are not allowed to run with their owners. Juniors who have completed 11, 21 or 50 junior runs are awarded a coloured wristband.[41] Events take place on Sunday morning.

When launched, Junior Parkrun was run monthly, on the first Sunday of every month. The wish is for all events to convert to running weekly. As of 25 August 2022, remaining monthly events include Bushy and Savill Garden.[42][43]

Milestone clubsEdit

The number of runs by each participant at all events is posted on the Parkrun website. "Milestone clubs" are available when a runner has completed a sufficient number of events; milestones are available at 25, 50, 100, 250 and 500 runs, and members can, if they so wish, order a colour-coded t-shirt to commemorate their achievement. The t-shirts are coloured purple, red, black, green and blue, respectively.

Juniors - those under the age of 18 - can claim a white T-shirt when they complete 10 runs, and there is a purple t-shirt for people who volunteer 25 times.[44] The milestone and volunteer t-shirts were free until September 2021, at which point they became chargeable. At this time, additional volunteer t-shirts were introduced, to align with the milestone t-shirts: 25 (purple), 50 (red), 100 (black), 250 (green) and 500 (blue).

Parkrun tourism and challengesEdit

Runners, when they sign up on the Parkrun website, are asked to pick a "Home Parkrun", usually the one they live closest to and are likely to frequent most. Parkrun tourists are broadly defined as anyone travelling to a run that is not their home Parkrun. Tourism can involve running in a neighbouring park, town, region or even country with some runners travelling to a different run every week. [45][46][47]

Parkrun challenges involve completing a number of different runs in a particular way which are personally meaningful but not officially recorded. These include "Londone" which is completing all of the Parkruns in London.[48] The "alphabeteer" is running a Parkrun beginning with each letter of the alphabet[49] and light hearted challenges such as the Bee Gees themed "Stayin' Alive" which is completing three runs beginning with B and three beginning with G.[50] A Google Chrome and Firefox extension details further challenges such as "Groundhog Day" which is running the same time at the same Parkrun location in two consecutive weeks and "Regionnaire" which is to complete all of the Parkruns in any region.[51]

Individual running recordsEdit

  • Female record holder: Isobel Batt-Doyle on 31 December 2022 with a time of 15:25 at Aldinga Beach Parkrun near Adelaide, Australia.[52] [53]
  • Male record holder: Andrew Baddeley set a time of 13:48 at Bushy Parkrun on 11 August 2012.[54][55]
  • Age-graded record holder: Fauja Singh set 179.04% at Valentines Parkrun on 31 March 2012 (the day before his 101st birthday) with a time of 38:34.[56]
  • Global record holder for highest number of runs: Darren Wood with 832 runs (as of 4 January 2023).[57]
  • Global record holder for the highest number of different events: Paul Freyne with 599 different Parkrun locations (as of 4 January 2023).[57]


Parkrun events are free of charge to participants and run principally by volunteers. The majority of Parkrun's income comes from sponsorship and grants, with some commercial income from apparel, wristbands, and accessories. Donations form less than 15% of the charity's income.[58]


A 2013 article in The Guardian noted the rapid growth of Parkrun and suggested this was mainly due to its simplicity and accessibility: runners register online once, turn up at any event, and run.[7] Inclusivity is also a factor,[59] as participants have a wide range of running abilities, from fast club runners to those walking, a wide range of ages from children running with their parents to the elderly; also allowed are wheelchair users, those pushing buggies and people running with their dog.

Writing in The Independent in 2018, Jonathan Liew, their Chief Sports Writer, said "parkrun is not simply one of the biggest sporting events in the world, but one of the most important, largely because it entirely upends what we have long been told sport is about."[12] He discusses how sport has become ever more something the public pay to watch, packaged ever more expensively, with the sports people's lives tipping over into light entertainment, concluding with the comment "parkrun offers something entirely different: community, opportunity, the outdoors, the simple pleasure of sport and people. In so doing, it has resurrected a vision of sport that has been in recession for a generation."[12]


The Journal of Public Health reported in a 2013 study upon 7,308 Parkrun participants that the events were attractive to people who described themselves as non-runners; with women, older adults and overweight people well represented. It added that participation problems have been minimized, with no upper age limit, no special equipment and no cost. And that while some participants ran before a Parkrun, some are new to exercise, and Parkrun offered the opportunity and support to become active on a continuous weekly basis.[18]

A 2015 qualitative study by the University of Loughborough found that runners attending a Parkrun for the first time were typically motivated for weight loss or an improvement in their physical fitness.[60] On the other hand, there were a range of different motivations for runners to continue regularly taking part, with runners wanting; to beat their personal record time; to reach a certain number of runs and join a milestone club; to enjoy being outdoors at the park; to make new friends through volunteering or to meet existing friends or family for the run.[60]


Health initiativesEdit

Parkrun endeavours to promote health and wellbeing through a number of initiatives. Its mission statement is "a healthier and happier planet".[61][62] In the UK, Parkrun has partnered with the Royal College of General Practitioners in order to promote healthy living through increased physical activity, socialisation and mutual support.[63][64]

In Ireland, the long-running Operation Transformation TV show has partnered with Parkrun on several occasions, encouraging viewers to join local Parkruns that held special Couch-to-5k programmes to coincide with the series.[65]

Relations with local authoritiesEdit

Most events are run with the support and sometimes the sponsorship of local authorities. A notable conflict occurred at Little Stoke Parkrun. Parkrun does not set up events where charges would apply to the organisers or runners.[9] Little Stoke Parkrun had begun with the council's permission in November 2012.[66] In April 2016 the responsible parish council in Stoke Gifford, Bristol, England, voted to charge runners a fee to participate.[67] Despite an online petition and support from the Minister for Sport, the council would not change its decision, so the Parkrun was permanently cancelled.[68] In April 2017 the British Government proposed that, in future, local councils in England would not be allowed to charge for Parkruns in a public park.[69]

Events around the worldEdit


The first Australian Parkrun event was held at Main Beach, on the Gold Coast, on 2 April 2011.[70] ABC News, remarking on Parkrun Australia, said "there are competitive runners aiming to win but there are just as many people running for the fun of it. If people want to race each other, that's fine, they can, but if you want to walk that is fine too. Everyone is welcome, from kids to grandparents, it's one of the few sporting events that a family can do together."[71] The two biggest Parkruns in Australia are South Bank in Brisbane, Queensland and Albert Park Lake in Melbourne, Victoria, the two having alternating attendance records over the years with South Bank holding the current record of 1,010 participants set on Christmas Day, 25 December 2019.[72]


The first three parkruns in Germany were Georgengarten parkrun in Hannover, Küchenholz parkrun in Leipzig and Neckarau parkrun in Mannheim, when they all hosted their first event on 2 December 2017. When Aachener Weiher parkrun started in Cologne, it became the first parkrun in the alphabetical list of all parkruns.


The first run in Ireland was at Malahide Castle on 10 November 2012. The rollout of Parkruns in Ireland was assisted by funding from the government's Department of Health with the aim of empowering local communities and encouraging individuals and families to lead active lives. The record attendance was at Marlay Parkrun on 21 January 2017 when there were 795 runners.[73]


Parkrun was introduced for the first time to Japan on 6 April 2019, by the Futako-Tamagawa Parkrun event in Tokyo. There are now 24 events held every Saturday morning in Japan.[74]

New ZealandEdit

The first event was at Lower Hutt on 5 May 2012.


The first Polish Parkrun took place in Gdynia on 15 Oct 2011. Poland has the first Parkrun to cross the border of another country. Cieszyn Parkrun starts in Poland but crosses into the Czech Republic before returning to Poland.[75] The record attendance was at Poznan Parkrun on 27 December 2015 when there were 1111 runners.[76]


Parkrun in Russia began simultaneously at Kolomenskoe Parkrun and Severnoe Tushino Parkrun on 1 March 2014.[77] Parkrun Yakutsk Dohsun takes place in Yakutsk, which has an average daily temperature of −8.8 °C (16.2 °F).[78]

All Parkrun events in Russia are currently suspended due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.[79]

South AfricaEdit

Parkrun South Africa was started and promoted by ultramarathoner Bruce Fordyce.[80] The first Parkrun took place at Delta Park in Johannesburg on 12 November 2011 and had 26 participants. It is now one of the larger Parkruns regularly drawing up to 1200 runners and attracting tourists as the first one in the nation.[81] The world record attendance was at North Beach, Durban, which saw 2527 runners on 20 January 2018.[82]

United StatesEdit

The first parkrun event in the United States was at Livonia on 2 June 2012. There are 58 active events (as of 4 March 2023), with five of these clustered in the Washington DC Area.

Festive and special eventsEdit

There are festive and special events which do not necessarily occur on a Saturday. Each country chooses its own special event days, which are held optionally by local Parkrun teams - i.e., they will not be run at every Parkrun location. Generally, where such special events are held, they are Parkruns on Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and/or national holidays in their respective countries.[83]

List of Parkrun event countriesEdit

Parkrun is held in 26 of the 28 different countries and territories listed below as of 6 December 2022.

Some nations' Parkrun events are suspended:

  • Parkrun events in France were suspended in July 2022 due to legal issues regarding medical certification.[84]
  • Parkrun events in Russia were suspended in March 2022 due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Parkrun CEO Russ Jefferys explained the suspension, saying the war "directly conflicts with our charitable objective of promoting health and happiness across the world" and that Parkrun volunteers "should not be put in a position in which they are forced to justify why parkrun events remain open or have to explain their personal politics in a country where that would put them at risk".[79]
Country or territory No. of
Cite First event name First event location First event date
  United Kingdom 771 [85] [a] Bushy Parkrun London 2 October 2004
  Australia 455 [86] Main Beach Parkrun Gold Coast 2 April 2011
  South Africa 189 [87] [b] Delta Parkrun Johannesburg 12 November 2011
  Russia 109 [88][c] Kolomenskoe Parkrun & Severnoe Tushino Parkrun[d] Moscow 1 March 2014
  Ireland 106 [89] Malahide Parkrun Dublin 10 November 2012
  Poland 85 [90] [e] Gdynia Parkrun Gdynia 15 October 2011
  United States 56 [91] Livonia Parkrun Livonia 2 June 2012
  Germany 49 [92] Georgengarten, Küchenholz & Neckarau[f] Hannover, Leipzig & Mannheim 2 December 2017
  Canada 43 [93] Okanagan Parkrun Kelowna 20 August 2016
  New Zealand 40 [94] Lower Hutt Parkrun Lower Hutt 5 May 2012
  Japan 32 [95] Futakotamagawa Tokyo 6 April 2019
  Italy 14 [96] Uditore Parkrun Palermo 23 May 2015
  Netherlands 14 [97] 6 locations [g] 6 locations [h] 29 February 2020
  Sweden 11 [98] Haga Parkrun Stockholm 27 August 2016
  Denmark 9 [99] Amager Fælled Parkrun Copenhagen 16 May 2009
  France 8 [100][101] Les Dougnes Parkrun Cubnezais 6 May 2015
  Norway 7 [102] Tøyen Parkrun Oslo 26 August 2017
  Finland 6 [103] Tampere Parkrun Tampere 14 October 2017
  Austria 3 [104] Hellbrunn Parkrun Salzburg 14 August 2021
  Malaysia 3 [105] Taman Pudu Ulu Parkrun Kuala Lumpur 14 April 2018
  Namibia 3 [87] Swakopmund Parkrun Swakopmund 8 April 2017
  Singapore 3 [106] East Coast Park Parkrun Singapore 21 June 2014
  Eswatini 2 [87] Mbabane Parkrun Mbabane 6 May 2017
  Akrotiri and Dhekelia 1 [85][107]
Akrotiri Parkrun Akrotiri and Dhekelia 8 January 2022
  Falkland Islands 1 [85][108]
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse Parkrun Stanley 26 October 2019
  Guernsey 1 [85][109] Guernsey Parkrun L'Ancresse 9 April 2016
  Isle of Man 1 [85][110] Nobles Parkrun Douglas 21 October 2017
  Jersey 1 [85][111] Jersey Parkrun Saint Brelade 26 September 2015

List of junior Parkrun event countriesEdit

The following table lists countries which host junior Parkrun as of 28 August 2022:

Country No. of
Cite First event name First event location First event date
  United Kingdom 382 [112] Bushy Juniors Parkrun London 1 April 2010
  Ireland 29 [112] Rush Junior Parkrun Dublin 13 December 2015
  Australia 5 [112] Southport Junior Parkrun Southport 22 April 2018

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Run under the jurisdiction of parkrun UK are 6 events which take place on British islands and territories outside of what is technically the UK, so the total has been reduced accordingly. UK events include those for Jersey, Guernsey & Isle of Man which each have 1 event and are Crown Dependencies. British Overseas Territories have 3 events; 2 in the Falkland Islands and 1 on Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus.
  2. ^ Run under the jurisdiction of parkrun South Africa are those for Namibia (3) and Eswatini (2), the total for South Africa has been reduced accordingly.
  3. ^ parkruns in Russia are currently suspended due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
  4. ^ Both events started on the same day.
  5. ^ The Cieszyn parkrun course includes a section that crosses the border into neighbouring Czech Republic and is therefore the only parkrun event that takes place across 2 countries;
  6. ^ Three events started on the same day.
  7. ^ Stadspark parkrun – Groningen, Maxima parkrun – Utrecht, Kralingse Bos parkrun – Rotterdam, Goffert parkrun – Nijmegen, Karpendonkse Plas parkrun – Eindhoven, Tapijn parkrun – Maastricht
  8. ^ Groningen, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Eindhoven & Maastricht
  9. ^ Event takes place on a UK military base which is closed to the general public.
  10. ^ Includes 1 event on a UK military base which is closed to the general public.


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  109. ^ "home | Guernsey parkrun | Guernsey parkrun".
  110. ^ "home | Nobles parkrun | Nobles parkrun".
  111. ^ "home | Jersey parkrun | Jersey parkrun".
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Further readingEdit

  • Bourne, Debra (2014). Parkrun: much more than just a run in the park. Chequered Flag Publishing. ISBN 9780956946072.

External linksEdit